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MESSRS. MASON AND SLIDELL.
aults/bon Senate ready no
several sessions as Chairman of the Com- active agent of Mr. Buchanan's adminmittee of Foreign Relations, doubtless istration, which he greatly influenced, had its influence in his selection as a and the rebellion found him among the diplomatic agent abroad of the Confed- most conspicuous of the secessionists. erate States. We have seen his choice We have already noticed his farewell to on occasion of the Secession and the part the Senate.* Of late years he had also he took in his native State in its assaults borne a prominent part in the disturbed upon the Government. His course in local politics of New Orleans, and unthe Senate was chiefly noticeable for the doubtedly was well qualified, as a thordefiant tone with which he supported the ough partisan and ambitious advocate of pretensions of the Southern party. Un- Southern independence, to represent the like his grandfather, who was a resolute Confederacy wherever he might be sent. opponent of the institution of slavery, Of course persons so well known would he was one of the most strenuous advo- not think of making their way through cates of the new pro-slavery policy- the Northern States to embark for Euwas the author of the fugitive slave bill rope. A better chance was to take the —and had long made up his mind in risk of the blockade. Accordingly, a litfavor of the separation from the Union tle before midnight of the 11th of Octoof the Southern States.
ber the party consisting of Mr. Mason John Slidell, the Commissioner to of Virginia, his secretary Mr. McFarFrance, was a native of New York. land, Mr. John Slidell of Louisiana, acBorn in the year 1798, he was a few companied by his wife and four children years older than his coadjutor. A duel and his secretary Mr. Eustis with his in his youth with Stephen Price the wise, together with some other agents of well-known theatrical manager, was fol- the Confederates, among whom, it was lowed by his retirement to New Orleans, said, was Captain Coxeter, late of the Priwhere he pushed his fortunes in the law vateer Jeff. Davis, embarked at Charlesand in political life. He was appointed ton on board the small steamer Theodora. United States District Attorney at that the night was dark and the obscurity city by President Jackson, was frequent- was increased by a light rain. Under ly sent to the State Legislature, and was these favoring circumstances the steamer elected a member of the national House escaped the notice of the Union ships off of Representatives. While a member the harbor and made her way in safety of Congress he was prominently brought to the port of Nassau, in New Provi. to the notice of the public by his ap- dence. There the party would have dispointment by President Polk as Minister embarked and taken the British steamer Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordin- by which communication is kept up beary to Mexico on the eve of the war tween England and the island, but learnwith that country. The difficulties; how- ing that this vessel made New York her ever, between the two nations had gone stopping place, they were needs compelltoo far for negotiation—at least it was ed to choose some other route. "Howso thought by the government at Mexico, ever gratifying a sight of New York and Mr. Slidell was not received in his might have been under other circumdiplomatic capacity. On the retirement stances,” as the Charleston Mercury, in of Mr. Soulé from his seat in the United reciting these particulars, with an uninStates Senate to enter upon his mission tentional foreshadowing of coming events, to Spain, Mr. Slidell was appointed as remarked, “the commissioners determinhis successor, and upon the conclusion of ed on this instance to forego the pleathe term was again elected. He was an sure." The Theodora then sailed for * Ante vol. i. p. 248.
* Ante vol. i. p. 67.
He was apport that The nigheased by a per
Cuba, landed the commissioners at Car- been assigned to special duty near denas on the 16th, and the next day en- Washington. At the time of the detered the port of Havana displaying the parture of the Confederate CommissionConfederate flag. There the ambassa- ers he was on his way hoine from the dors were well received by their friends Coast of Africa in command of the and the supporters of the Southern re- United States vessel San Jacinto, a first volt.
class screw steam sloop, mounting thirMeanwhile the reported departure of teen guns. the Commissioners had made some stir at Approaching the American Coast, CapWashington and throughout the country. tain Wilkes put into the island of St. It was said on the authority of a South- Thomas, and there, gaining information ern newspaper, that they had escaped of the movements of the Confederate from Charleston in the steamer Nash- privateer Sumter, went in pursuit of her ville, a privateering vessel fitting out at in the Gulf of Mexico and at various that port, which, as subsequently ascer-West India stations. At Cienfuegos he tained, did not leave till more than a learnt that the Theodora had run the fortnight after the Theodora. Govern- blockade from Charleston and reached ment vessels were immediately dispatch- Havana, whither he proceeded to watch ed in pursuit to the Bermudas, whither her movements and capture her if possithe Nashville had directed her course, ble on her return to the Southern States. and to the coast of England, whither it On reaching Havana, on the 31st of Ocwas supposed she would speedily pro- tober, he found that the Theodora had ceed. To none of the vessels, however, already departed, leaving the Confederspecially sent out to intercept the Nash- ate ambassadors and their suite, enjoyville, were the ambassadors the destined | ing the hospitality of the British Consul prize. Their capture was reserved for and their sympathizing friends while they an eminent officer of the American Navy, awaited the arrival of the West India whose accidental return to this region packet, the regular means of communifrom a foreign station threw him at the cation with Europe, the English steamer time upon their track.
Trent, Captain Moir, which would leave Captain Charles Wilkes, into whose the island on the 7th of November. hands they fell, a native of the State of The Trent ran from Vera Cruz by way New York, born in 1805, had entered of Havana to St. Thomas, where another the navy at the age of thirteen, and had vessel carried the passengers and mails long been distinguished in the service, to Southampton. Having ascertained being specially kuown by his scientific the intention of the Commissioners, and acquirements and by his command of the having satisfied himself of his legal Exploring Expedition sent out by the rights in the premises, Captain Wilkes American Government to the South Pa- at once came to the conclusion that it cific in 1838. His narrative of the ob- was his duty to capture the ambassador's servations and discoveries of the Expe on their passage. In his own words : dition covering a period of four years, “I made up my mind to fill up with coal published on his return, brought him to and leave the port as soon as possible to the notice of the European public, and await at a suitable position on the route he received the gold medal of the Lon of the steamer to St. Thomas to interdon Geographical Society as a recogni- cept her and take them out." Accordtion of his achievements. He subse- ingly, making his preparations in haste, quently published a work relating to he left the port on the 2d of November, California and Oregon, entitled “ West- and presently directed his course to Key ern America.” Of late years he had | West, where be expected to find the
CAPTAIN WILKES' PREPARATIONS.
Powhatan or some other steamer to ac- Fairfax, with the second cutter of this company him to the Bahama Channel ship, was despatched. He met with " to make it impossible for the steamer some difficulty, and remaining on board in which Messrs. Slidell and Mason were the steamer with a part of the boat's to embark to escape either in the night crew, sent her back to request more or day.” The Powhatan, however, had assistance : the captain of the steamer left the day before his arrival, and he having declined to show his papers and was obliged to rely solely upon the vigi- passenger list, a force became necessary lance of the officers and crew of his own to search her. Lieutenant James A. ship. Running back to the northern Greer was at once despatched in the side of Cuba on the 4th, he was in hopes third cutter, also manned and armed. of receiving a telegraphic communica- Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis, and Maction from the coast from the United farland were recognized and told they States consul-general, Mr. Shufelt, ad-were required to go on board this ship. vising him of the exact time of the de- This they objected to until an overpowparture of the English packet. In this ering force.compelled them : much peralso he was disappointed, when he ran suasion was used and a little force, and to the eastward some ninety miles where at about two o'clock they were brought the old Bahama Channel contracts to the on board this ship and received by me. width of fifteen miles some two hundred Two other boats were then sent to expe. and forty miles from the Havana, and in dite the removal of their baggage and sight of the Paredon del Grande light- some stores, when the steamer, which house. There, continues Captain Wilkes proved to be the Trent, was suffered to in his report to the Secretary of the proceed on her route to the eastward, Navy,“ we cruised until the morning of and at 3.30 P. M. we bore away to the the 8th awaiting the steamer, believing northward and westward. The whole that if she left at the usual time she time employed was two hours and thirmust pass us about noon of the 8th, and teen minutes. we could not possibly miss her. At "It was my determination,” adds Cap11.40 A. M. on the 8th her smoke was tain Wilkes,“ to have taken possession first seen ; at 12 m. our position was of the Trent, and sent her to Key West to the westward of the entrance into as a prize, for resisting the search and the narrowest part of the channel, and carrying these passengers, whose characabout nine miles northeast from the light- ter and objects were well known to the house of Paredon del Grande, the near- captain ; but the reduced number of my est point of Cuba to us. We were all | officers and crew, and the large number prepared for her, beat to quarters, and of passengers on board, bound to Euorders were given to Lieutenant D. M. rope, who would be put to great inconFairfax to have two boats manned and venience, decided me to allow them to armed to board her and make Messrs. proceed. Finding the families of Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis, and Macfarland Slidell and Eustis on board, I tendered prisoners, and send them immediately them the offer of my cabin for their acou board. The steamer approached and commodation to accompany their hushoisted English colors, our ensign was bands; this they declined, however, and hoisted, and a shot was fired across her proceeded in the Trent. Before closing bow; she maintained her speed and this despatch I would bring to your noshowed no disposition to heave-to; then tice the notorious action of her British a shell was fired across her bow, which Majesty's subjects, the consul general of brought her to. I hailed that I intended Cuba and those on board the Trent, in to send a boat on board, and Lieutenant doing everything to aid and abet the es